The novel Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup is an excellent rendition of slavery in antebellum society and greatly exemplifies how politics effected views on African Americans, as well as how it dictated their religion and literacy.
This novel tells the story of one free mans true account of his being captured and sold into slavery, subjected to its brutality for over a decade of his life. The propaganda and explanation for holding the slave population captive was directly the result of political influence. It was for the best of the southern economy and was successful in convincing much of the white population that African Americans in fact enjoyed their lifestyle and were unable to comprehend the idea of what it was to be a free man. The religious stories told to the slave population were those of obedience and reform. The way religion was utilized was political itself, although still providing a form of salvation, was not spoken of or taught in much of the same way that it would be exercised it today. The novel not only depicts this usage but also the difference in literacy of that of the free man and the slave. Human beings born into slavery were purposefully not taught to be literate specifically for a political agenda. The difference between communication among those born to slavery and those who were not depicted in the novel is truly great.
- Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years A Slave . Dover Ed. Auburn, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Print.
- Rubenstein, James. The Cultural Landscape. 11th ed. Pearson Education, Print.
Jessica Silvestri, Ellie Strandquist, Jacob Standofer